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Research project

Circulating Biomarkers for Prostate Cancer

Status: Ongoing project

We aim to collect circulating markers in prostate cancer patients. Using circulating tumor derived DNA in plasma and circulating tumor cells we aim to improve the understanding of prostate cancer biology.

What we do

About our project

Motivation and aim of this project

Metastatic prostate cancer patients often have most of their disease in bone metastases, making it hard to obtain biomaterials for analysis. Moreover, tracking the volume of disease in response to treatment is difficult as bone lesions are difficult to measure. We aim to use circulating biomarkers to probe the biology of individual tumors and to trace the response to treatment more accurately.

Execution and collaboration of this project

We collect blood samples from prostate cancer patients with their corresponding clinical data in a longitudinal fashion. We now have a biobank of specimens that may be used for research purposes. Moreover, we have started a project to perform Diagnostic Leukapheresis in prostate cancer patients to obtain enough cells for biologic research.

Funding of this project

This project has been funded by different sources. We have obtained high risk funding from the Dutch Cancer Foundation (KWF). And a recent grant has been granted from the NWO/KWF for a collaboration with the University of Twente on single cell phenotyping obtained using Diagnostic Leukapheresis.

Possible impact on patient care

The use of circulating biomarkers will allow us to repeatedly probe the disease biology in patients that are actively being treated. In fact the main problem in the treatment of cancer is the fact that we develop novel treatments that all induce their own resistance. Therefore understanding how tumors adapt to the selective pressure of treatment is crucial in improving treatment outcomes.

Our research focus

Assessing response to treatment in prostate cancer patients

In prostate cancer the difficulty in measuring response is mainly related to the fact that bone lesions cannot be measured reliably. Clinically, we use PSA to follow disease whereas we know this becomes less reliable after the first Androgen Deprivation Treatment. Improving the response evaluation may lead to more effective treatment as we can more adequately detect to treatment success and failures.

Importance of “phenotyping” prostate cancer

Prostate cancer cell lines are scarce and the community of prostate cancer researchers has invested considerable efforts into generating novel cell lines without much success. In our efforts to generate knowledge on how specific subgroups of patients respond to treatment we need more means to test prostate cancer cell behavior outside of patients. Circulating tumor cells may be an appropriate surrogate if we can obtain enough of them.

Funds & Grants

  • Dutch Cancer Foundation (KWF)
  • NWO/KWF call on technology development


Inside Erasmus MC

  • Department of Urology
  • Center for Computational Biology

Outside Erasmus MC

  • University of Twente


Our team